September 12

How does recycling help the environment?

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Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new products. Recycling helps to reduce the amount of garbage on our planet by reducing the need for raw materials, which are extracted from Earth’s natural resources. So how does recycling help the environment; we will find out in this article.

 

Why Recycle?

Waste is a common by-product of consumption, consumption requires natural resources to be extracted from Earth’s natural resources. Mining these resources often leaves the land contaminated and may threaten endangered species like fish and elephants. Recycling reduces the consumption of new materials, which reduces the need for new extraction, reducing environmental damage.

The chemical process involved in recycling is simple, but it can be difficult to recycle certain items. Recycling aluminum cans takes only a few steps and the aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality. Other materials, like paper or plastic, may become contaminated or mixed with other substances during the recycling process making them unusable for further recycling.

 

Internal vs external recycling

Internal recycling refers to the reuse of materials within a company, before they are disposed of. For example, reusing an aluminum can within a food packaging factory reduces the savings on raw materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with extracting new material. External recycling refers to all other recycling methods outside of direct disposal at source or internal recycling.

 

Types of items that can be recycled

The most commonly recycled items are:

  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Tires

These items can be recycled an infinite number of times, making them sustainable resources. There are other types of recyclable materials that may not be as readily accepted by recycling facilities or may not be cost-effective to recycle, but are still beneficial to the environment when recycled. These items include:

  • Clothing
  • Electronics

Recycling these types of items reduces the amount of waste in landfills and helps world economies save money by reusing existing resources.

 

Benefits of Recycling for the Environment

Conserves energy and natural resources

Recycling reduces the need for extracting new natural resources and saves energy that would have otherwise been used. For example, recycling 1 ton of paper saves 24 trees and several thousand gallons of water. Not only does recycling save these resources from being wasted, but it also eliminates the need for manufacturing new paper.

 

Reduces greenhouse gas emissions

The process of obtaining raw materials from an environment to a factory requires machinery and transportation. These processes release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which have been linked to climate change. Cutting down on the use of these machines reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

 

Preserves water quality

Extracting raw materials can contaminate surrounding waterways because of runoff from chemicals used during mining or other waste that enters into rivers, streams, and oceans as a by-product of production during all steps from material extraction to manufacturing. Recycling can help reduce the amount of chemical runoff by reusing materials namely aluminum, steel, paper, and glass.

 

Reduces air pollution

Transportation is one of the biggest sources of air pollution. With recycling facilities within closer distances to extraction sites, transportation costs are reduced which reduces greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere that contribute to climate change. Recycling would help reduce the amount of air pollution caused by the transportation of tons of mined resources by huge, fossil-fuel hungry trucks running long-haul routes throughout the country.

Read: How fossil fuels harm the environment (Link)

 

Help reduce space in landfills

In 2018, Americans generated 82.2 million tons of waste from packaging alone. Reducing the amount of packaging and other materials that go to landfills by recycling will help free up a considerable amount of space that can be beneficial for agricultural purposes or even donated to other countries that may have a harder time recovering from environmental damage.

 

What can you recycle at home?

There are several items that can be recycled at home, but it’s best to lookup more specific information on what your city accepts. Some common items that often get recycled at home include:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Books
  • Glass bottles
  • Plastic bottles and containers
  • Electronics (computers, phones, batteries)

You should always look for as many things as possible to recycle, and if you’re creative, you can also find ways to reuse things yourselves; that’s sort of recycling too!

Read: Other ways to be eco friendly at home (Link)

 

Where can you recycle?

The best way to find out what items are recycled in your area is by looking up “garbage disposal” or “recycling centers.”

Nowadays, there are so many apps and websites that help us find nearby recycling facilities for easier convenience – I’ll leave it up to you to do the research on which website/app is best for your own purposes!

And if you cannot find any app that can help you, simply search on Google!

 

Conclusion

Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from mining and production processes. It also helps save energy, water, natural resources, and money by reusing existing materials.

Taking a little time out of your day to recycle can help keep our planet clean now and for future generations.

Read: Why sustainability is important for your children (Link)

 


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